12TH JANUARY 2007
Pope Benedict leads Church celebrations for World Day of Migrants and Refugees
The Catholic Church’s 93rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be celebrated this Sunday, 14 January 2007. Information and material detailing the World Day has been sent to those priests and religious who minister to immigrant communities throughout Ireland. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has chosen this year’s theme as: “The Migrant Family”.
Fr Alan Hilliard, secretary of the Irish Bishops’ Department of Pastoral Care, said: “Migrants by their nature live far away from those they love. Often this is due to economic necessity, and this in turn can be compounded by restrictive immigration laws. Immigration policy should be about people first. To this end the reunification of families should be a goal for those involved in migration policy.”
Fr Hilliard said: “Currently in Ireland there are over 100 Catholic religious services for the pastoral support of our immigrant communities. The provision of these religious services, which show respect for the language and customs of the immigrant, is an important initiative to cultivate a spirit of welcome and to facilitate the journey to integration.”
Sr Joan Roddy Director of the Bishops’ Refugee & Migrant Project said: “This special Sunday gives us the opportunity to reflect on the situation of the millions of people worldwide who have no place to call home, those whose lives are at risk. We remember those who do not feel safe within their own country.”
Sr Roddy concluded: “At the same time we recognize that it is becoming more and more difficult for people to cross borders to seek a place of refuge. Simply put, their story is often not believed and they are turned back. The coming among us of Jesus, as part of the human family, reminds us that no one is excluded from God’s family. Building up this family is our task as individuals Christians, as communities and as a country.”